LENSED: Manikins

Well, I don't know what they think they're wearing, but the models are yummytastic. Rod 2.0 has an exclusive preview of the latest from FLAUNT clothes catalogue (er, I mean, "fashion bible") which features some vacant-looking pretty boys dressed up in scary rags for money. See: here she is again, wearing some different clothes. And here. And here! What a lark! Stop sniggering, it's all very serious. This is fashion, dammit. The lads are well known names - Salieu Jalloh, Marcus Lloyd and Shawn Sutton - or they are if you know your Chad Whites from your Wendell Lissimores. And if you don't know them from Adam, it's probably because you have more important things to be getting on with. Lucky you.

Your Music Is Gay

Out.com has gone and published an article about the 100 Greatest, Gayest Albums, a largely redundant exercise, since the 100 albums have been voted on by people like notorious racist Australian Darren Hayes, some pointless entity called Perez Hilton, and good old Boy George, who I suppose is the closest thing we have to gay royalty (albeit a badly behaved royal). Oh, they managed to ask Wilson Cruz too; personally, I think they should have left it to him, but I'm biased. Oh, Wilson, Wilson, Wilson...

Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, some corporate juggernaut's notion of the gay zeitgeist. Frankly, I'd be more interested if I didn't suspect the list wasn't largely dictated by snow-white fags who think David Beckham is a gay icon, for tedious queens who think Kylie's God (instead of the cynical c*** she truly is, talons grasping for every gay dollar she can get). No, there's nothing of the Harlem Renaissance or Rikki Beadle-Blair about this mess, it's all Elton John, Judy Garland and Madonna.

Now, I like a bit of Madonna once in a while; I love Rain. And I adore The Wizard of Oz as much as the next man. But, you know, it's all a bit of a cliché. We've had The Wire with Omar Little - gay men aren't just upwards-of-comfortably-well-off. We're not all white. We're not all either hustlers, or banal suburbanites. And some of us would happily stomp on Kylie's head - I mean, she has to be stopped somehow, doesn't she?

I do love a lot of the albums on the list: the Pet Shop Boys, who pop up frequently, are frankly a cornerstone of civilisation. But there's nothing surprising in this ghastly list, it's white, white, white, even down to your Tracy Chapman and your Sade. It's suburban and middle-class and mainstream and middle-America. It's Dale Winton and Queer As Folk and G.A.Y. and fake tans. 'Oh, but hip-hop is so homophobic, why should it be on the list?' I hear you whine. Well I'm not just talking about hip-hop, there's other forms of music - drum'n'bass? neo-soul? - and even if I was just talking about hip-hop, not all of it is homophobic, just ask Kanye West. Or gay rapper QBoy, or the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.

All in all, this banal list isn't a good advert for us. It pushes forth the opinions of the white middle-class majority and it ignores the sizeable minority of our minority. It reinforces stereotypes and holds us back.

It's enough to make me want to gouge Madonna's eyes out.

27

Craig Steven Marshall, 19, is the 27th teenager to be murdered in London this year. He was stabbed at the foot of a block of flats in Acton, West London - a few minutes walk from where I live.

Following his knifing on Thursday night, he managed to get himself to Acton police station, just around the corner from Rufford Tower. He died on Friday.

His best friend, Steven Mingard, said: "Craig was a really good person. We'd just made a pact to grow our hair long and he had finished a painting and decorating apprenticeship."

In 2007, 26 London teenagers met with violent deaths.

LENSED: David McIntosh

I'm thinking of changing the tagline for the blog from "news opinion culture music film sex" to "everything except sport." It's painfully stereotypical, but I don't do sport. I don't like doing it and I don't like watching it. "What about Gladiators!" I hear you cry. Oh, if only sport was as silly and camp as Gladiators. Then there's the Gladiators themselves - David McIntosh, for example, who plays Tornado. Oh my. He's a serving Royal Marine Commando who's been in Afghanistan, Somalia and Northern Ireland (I'd be happy to show him the sights - and I'd even polish his weapon whilst he's there). He's gone and got naked for gay rag AXM Magazine, along with a bunch of other celebrities. They're not all naked together, sadly. Oh, Tornado. (Sigh).More pictures here.

F*** your art, I wanna see your ass: The curse of Untitled

UNTITLED (HOW DOES It Feel) - an iconic video everyone’s seen.

It came to define D'Angelo and made him an instant superstar. The trouble is, that same video played a key role in the artist’s downward spiral.

I use the word artist deliberately, because that's exactly what D'Angelo is - and his contemporaries Maxwell, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill et al. An artist in the truest sense, concerned with the quality, not the quantity, of his music. D'Angelo is an Artist. Usher, on the other hand, who (badly) mimicked the Untitled video, is a Product.

Back in August, Spin published an in depth feature on the rise and fall of D'Angelo. I've long wondered why those promising artists who broke out when I was a teenager (and who, in the case of D'Angelo and his Brown Sugar album, gave birth to the neo-soul movement) in the late 1990s/early part of this decade, have been absent for most of this decade. Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson of The Roots - and a crucial player in the D'Angelo story - doesn't believe the disappearance of neo-soul's onetime leading lights can be attributed purely to personal issues: "It's no coincidence it's going to take ten years for the next D'Angelo record to come out, ten years for Lauryn. It took Erykah eight years, probably the same for Maxwell... A lot of factors have played into stalling the left-of center black movement." Factors like quality control, something the likes of R. Kelly and Usher don't worry too much about. Common talks about D'Angelo creating "incredible" music we'll never hear, whilst Kedar Massenburg, D'Angelo's one time manager, thinks these artists are paralyzed by the pressure to innovate.

Most interesting are Saul Williams comments on the "tug-of-war between art and commerce in black culture." An African-American writer and poet, he says: "When our generation falls victim to that Diddy mentality of 'Get money by any means necessary,' that puts a disproportionate amount of focus on people like D'Angelo and Lauryn. It's like, 'You're the only ones that get it. you guys have to cut through the bullshit.' So then we're like, 'you're not just a great artist, you're the messiah! Please come out with something!' It's enough to drive you batty."

D'Angelo isn't just a recording artist, he's legendary, iconic, genius, special... That's just little old me talking - imagine carrying the burden of the expectations of a cultural movement, of one’s peers. But that's just one side of the coin. The Spin article paints D'Angelo as an introvert who just wants to make music his way; a man who eschews the promotional whoring required of artists today.

The Untitled video was a turning point. Described as having once been a "chubby choir boy", D'Angelo was honed to perfection for his five minutes in front of the camera. "Initially, to him, it seemed completely bonkers," Dominique Trenier, D'Angelo's manager for nearly ten years, says of the artist's reaction to the video concept. "He didn't quite get what I was saying. He kept going, 'What do you mean, 'naked'?" Neither Trenier nor D'Angelo expected what came next. "'Untitled' wasn't supposed to be his mission statement for Voodoo... He and I were both disappointed because, to this day, in the general populace's memory, he's the naked dude."

Catcalls and screaming women disrupted the tour that followed Voodoo's release; the new breed of fans ushered in by Untitled wanted just one thing: D'Angelo to lose his clothes. Thompson says: "He'd get angry and start breaking shit. The audience thinking, 'Fuck your art, I wanna see your ass!' made him angry." D'Angelo "...isn't a sexy dude," according to Trenier, but a "...real musician who wears glasses and plays video games."

"I didn't realise how vulnerable he was and how deep his issues ran," says Alan Leeds, the Voodoo tour manager. "He's cursed now with fretting over how much of his fan base is because of how he looked as opposed to the music. It took away his confidence, because he's not convinced why any given fan is supporting him."

I was living in New York when Voodoo was released. There were billboards advertising the album everywhere; his image was emblazoned across buses and plastered all over the subway. When it came, I found Voodoo a strange beast, unexpected, other-worldly. It was nothing like Brown Sugar. Ten years on, Voodoo is still on high rotation. It’s rapturous, sweet, heady, magical... the soul record of the the decade, perhaps.

Come back D’Angelo - the screaming fans have moved on to 50 Cent and his ever-exposed pectorals. Those of us who just want to listen to you are still waiting.

We’re here.

NOTE: Interview excerpts from the Spin article, ‘D'Angelo: What the Hell Happened?’ written by David Peisner, 08.05.08.

Tyson Beckford

As easy as it would be, I'd hate for my blog to become yet another photo blog. There's plenty of them out there doing a jolly good job of it; you can find my personal favourites in the links sidebar, but props to So Slowly, Sexy Black Dudes, Black Beauty Prince, and everyone's secret crush, BeautifulMag. However, just occasionally, it might be okay to throw up a snapshot that just cries out for as wide an audience as possible. To make it sound like displaying other people's photos on my blog (for which I've no responsibility whatsoever) is somehow worthy or meaningful, I'm going to call this occasional series "In Pictures" (and yes I stole the name from the BBC, but since I pay for them, they can kiss my Irish a**). Giving names to things is a good way of making them mean something, like Weapons of Mass Destruction, or Credit Crunch. So to start us off, here's our first In Pictures, and the picture is of everyone's favourite "I Wish He Was My Boyfriend's Daddy" (or is that just me?), Tyson Beckford. The manikin was pictured at this year's London Fashion Week. And no, I don't know why his flies are undone.

You Don't Wanna Be Gay. Here

Pictured: Gareth Henry, a gay Jamaican man, is surrounded by an angry mob in St. Andrew, Jamaica. The mob was led by police. Story here.

You mostly likely think you have it tough living in the ominous shadow of hostile heterosexuals - fearful of kissing in public or even holding handing - but if you're caught out, you probably won't be whipped to death by the state.

That is, unless you live in certain dark corners of the world; The Independant, the newspaper widely thought of as an antidote to The Daily Mail, tells us the five worst places to live if you happen to like kissing boys (and you're also a boy. Obviously). There's no real surprises, they're all medieval Islamic hell holes (well, they hate us, so I'm going to be a bit childish and throw sticks'n'stones - a bit of stone throwing goes down well in the Arab world too, so I'm told).

Whilst not currently under the rule of Sharia law, Jamaica is the fifth bastion of anti-battyman sentiment, which is a shame, because with all that flamboyance it's a waste - not too mention the fact that lads there carry a lot of weight. And if you don't believe me check out Rudejam.com.

Happily, The Independant also has the ten best places to live if you're gay. I was staggered to learn that London, New York, Paris and (gasp!) San Francisco are considered good places to end up in a man sandwich. So's Berlin, which I wouldn't have necessarily guessed, but then I'm ignorant.

Both articles are worth a read - so click here if you want to be on the receiving end of a Muslim maniac with a whip, or here if feel like blowing an eighteen year old in the street in front of his tolerant mama.

26

Nineteen year old Oliver Kingonzila was stabbed to death in Croydon, South East London, in the early hours of Saturday.

He is the 26th boy to be murdered in the capital this year; his death comes exactly two weeks after the fatal stabbing of 14 year old Shaquille Smith.

Oliver's story is grimmer than usual; his older brother died earlier this year of a heart attack, aged just 27. Oliver himself was a keen footballer, having been captain of the Barnet youth team. His manager called him "a gentle giant."

"He was bright-eyed, keen and eager to be a professional footballer. I remember on his first day of arrival he bashed around the first team players when we had a little game. Everyone stood back and was amazed by his power and strength and yet impressed by his gentle personality when he wasn't on the pitch."

Two 18-year-old boys have been arrested following Oliver's death.

LENSED: Wendell Lissimore

Never let it be said that the ka-os blog lacks a moral compass or a sense of community spirt, not to mention family values yadda yadda yadda. With that in mind, I feel bound to warn readers against the scandalous pictures of Wendell Lissimore at a particular blog, lest your young minds be warped.
DON'T LOOK! at his sinful, thrusting thighs...
BEWARE! his ripped abs...
TAKE CARE! against those dangerous, protruding nipples...
WATCH OUT FOR! his overpowering, sexual maleness...
Seriously, don't click on this link to see THESE pictures or THESE shots. Or these or these or these.
I'm off to confession.

Oraine Barrett

Rod 2.0 reports on Jamaican model Oraine Barrett's latest snaps, in which he's draped in the rags of Phat Farm (why didn't they spell Farm with a Ph too?)
Mr Barrett is different from other manikins because he has a distinctive facial scar. Lots of people like facial scars; it presents them with a fantasy of violence and brutality, without having to take the journey themselves (source: The ka-os School Of $2 Psychology).
Over at Rod 2.0 they're excited that Barrett's scar hasn't been airbrushed out ("it is very refreshing to observe some honesty in the fantasy-driven fashion industry"), but it seems to me that they're missing the point. Since when did serious tissue damage become a selling point for rags? Or could it be that the selling point is that Oraine Barret is being presented as a Big Black Buck, A-Brutal-Street-Thug-Who'll-Throw-You-Down-And-Drill-You-With-His-Big-Black-Dick.
Those crazy kids in the fashion industry, what! Knocking back glasses of champagne and snorting up lines of coke - and in doing so feeding the kind of crime they're fetishising. It's all quite ironic.
Maybe I'm reading too much into it. Maybe Barrett is just a handsome man who happens to have a facial scar, and the world's suddenly such a wonderful, tolerant place and that doesn't matter anymore. Or maybe it really is as f**k-up as I think it is.
On the surface, the pictures are sexy. But what they stand for makes me sick. Sorry, Phat Farm, but I don't buy it.
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